In her book Daring Greatly, my new best boo Brene Brown alludes to her priest’s sermon about the nature of sacrifice. She explains he points out that the original Latin form of the word sacrifice means ‘to make sacred’ or ‘to make holy’ (238). I am all over this. The Old Testament denotations of the word conjure up images of blood and animals, and the New Testament, a dying Jesus.
With these pictures in mind, I don’t tend to think of sacrifice in terms of anything holy or lovely, but rather in terms of killing that which needed to die because it represents something that needs to go away. And when the word tells us to make a sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:15) I think of the personal cost, at times, that it takes to express my love, appreciation, awe, etc. for who Jesus is. I think of denying myself something in order to recognize a truer reality. All of these things are sacrifice – but I think there’s also another way to look at it.
When we couple this definition of sacrifice with the idea of making a sacrifice of praise…maybe what we are actually doing is agreeing to make holy that which concerns us by devoting it to the sacred. What if a sacrifice of praise is actually about saying He is competent to perfect that which concerns me? By this we convert our worry, anger, and disappointment into hope – confidence, even – that he will make sacred our woes. He will make sacred our failures. And he will make sacred our nagging fears. Maybe this is praise! This is sacrifice. He makes sacred. We make sacred by offering to him our certainty that his goodness is big enough to swallow up that which would otherwise steal life, and he makes sacred by meeting us there and taking care of all the rest.
The ugly becomes beautiful here, in sacrifice.